Thursday, 9 May 2013

Spirit of '99 inspires Farsley AFC Ladies to title success

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Match Photos are HERE
On the day that the greatest British football manager of all-time announced his retirement, Farsley AFC Ladies staged their own version of his finest hour.
Losing by the odd goal with two minutes to go, a Kat Bird penalty and a Millie West strike secured the West Riding County Women’s League First Division title in an astounding finale – anyone remember the 1999 Champions League final?
In the Nou Camp, it was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that ensured his place in Manchester United folklore. At the less glamorous surroundings of Sherburn White Rose – the temporary home of opponents Rothwell, Millie earned her position in Farsley’s greatest players list with a goal that sent coaches and supporters onto the pitch to celebrate an incredible 4-3 victory.
It could be arguably the most important goal in the history of the club as Rob Womersley’s side prepare their assault on moving up the women’s football pyramid.
The night was the culmination of four years of hard work, but ultimately it was decided by a manic two minutes.
It felt like divine intervention when the penalty to level the scores was given as nearly everyone had lost hope.
Farsley had led 2-0 at the break through a Clare Parker strike and an own goal. But, a Rothwell goal two minutes into the second half gave the home side hope and with the help of the inept referee, they mounted a comeback.
The equaliser came from a frankly ridiculous free kick decision and the goal which put Rothwell ahead came from a blatant foul. The scorer was also five yards offside.
The referee then incredibly gave Hayley Hare a red card for deliberate handball on the halfway line. Hope was drifting away and the referee’s decision making and poor understanding of the game was infuriating supporters.
However, the referee did redeem herself with the penalty decision. Bird, the coolest person on the pitch, fired the spot kick into the bottom corner to secure promotion – but the title was still to be won.
The celebrations would have still gone ahead, but not on the scale of the ones that were to follow when West scored.
All 11 players deserve credit for keeping their composure in deep adversity and ensuring the referee did not spoil their greatest day.
It has been hard work for the management to get a team together that can compete for honours. And the title is a reward for everyone’s loyalty during 2011 when the Ladies could only win three league games that year.
The sky is now the limit for the club.
The facilities are there so hopefully Farsley can continue to ride the crest of a wave and win promotion again next season.
Once again, well done Farsley AFC Ladies. 

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